Senator John Kelly has welcomed the call by Senator John Whelan, for the Government to establish an Energy Policy Forum modelled on the Constitutional Convention.
“Senator John Whelan is correct to when he says that the National Energy Policy, drawn up in 2006, should be revisited and that we need to grasp the opportunity that we now have to do so.
“An Bord Pleanala’s refusal of a 10-turbine wind farm in Cloghan, Co Offaly has significant implications in terms of the planning precedent it establishes for similar and much larger developments proposed for the midlands.
“It’s worth pointing out that I brought a comprehensive Wind Turbine Bill before the Seanad in 2012 and will be calling, once again, for my Bill to be fully supported in the lower house, as it was in the upper one.
“I also believe that health concerns expressed by Health Minister James Reilly about electromagnetic fields generated by high-voltage overhead power cables in Dublin North last year, are just as relevant in other parts of the country, and that they should be taken on board in the current debate.
“We also need an informed and honest debate on how best to align the urgent need to create jobs in all regions with an energy policy that serves all the needs of communities around the country. The suggested link between job creation and the energy infrastructure proposals is to say the least, unclear. We need to be informed exactly where these jobs will be and how many will be created.
“The time had come for us to adopt a practical approach to what needs to done in the area of energy policy, and we need urgently to utilise the resources at our disposal.
“The energy policy must now be revisited, reviewed and radically revised, so that local communities are given a meaningful opportunity to have a say in this crucial issue. The establishment of an Energy Policy Forum, as mooted by Senator Whelan, is the obvious way forward.